Nor Azlin: It’s a dream to play for JDT
Johor Baru: Adam Nor Azlin joined Johor Darul Ta’zim at the end of 2017, with the prospect of playing in tournaments such as the AFC Cup among the reasons behind the defender’s decision.
Winners of the AFC Cup in 2015 after a 1-0 victory over FC Istiklol saw them become the first ASEAN club team to be crowned continental champions, Johor reached the semi-finals the following year as they established themselves as one of the most feared teams in the competition.
Johor did not fare as well in last year’s tournament but, having claimed the Malaysia Super League title for the fourth successive season, the side return to the AFC Cup once more and open their campaign with a clash against Indonesia’s Persija Jakarta in Group H on Wednesday.
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“It’s a dream to play for JDT because they have great facilities and a good development programme,” said Nor Azlin, who joined the southern Malaysian side from Selangor FA towards the end of 2017.
“I think tournaments like the AFC Cup will help me improve a lot as a player because it’s one of the biggest tournaments in Asia.
“I hope that I can help the club achieve many things over the coming season, and I want to see an improvement in my own performances in both the domestic league and the AFC Cup.”
Nor Azlin arrived at Johor Darul Ta’zim on the back of a year that saw him handed his full international debut for Malaysia, a 4-1 defeat at the hands of DPR Korea in the third round AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 qualification.
WELCOME TO JOHOR DARUL TA’ZIM FOOTBALL CLUB Johor Darul Ta’zim FC is proud to welcome our new young player Adam Nor Azlin. We are excited to have him here with us. He is a part of our long term plan. He understands our project, possesses a strong character, determined to do well, grow as a player and winning titles. We are happy to have Adam to be a part of our huge project. Martin Prest, Johor Darul Ta'zim FC Sports Director Hidup Johor Demi Johor #HarimauSelatan #SouthernTigers #PermataSelatan #JewelOfTheSouth #JDTuntukSemua #JDTforAll
The defender then captained his country at the AFC U23 Championship in China in January as Malaysia’s next generation showcased their talent and gave a clear indication that a positive future awaits for the Malayan Tigers.
As one of only two debutants in the tournament, Malaysia managed to advance from a group that included Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, before succumbing to a late 2-1 defeat to Korea Republic in the quarter-finals.
“I think the qualification [to the quarter-finals] is very good for all the players [in the team] because we have good players in Malaysia that aren’t always exposed to Asia,” reflected Nor Azlin ahead of the match with the Koreans.
One Malaysian club where the players have had plenty of exposure on the continent, though, is Johor, where internationals such as national team captain Safiq Rahim, midfielder Amirul Hadi Zainal and defender Kunanlan Subramaniam all ply their trade.
The star names from his homeland, along with a number of top-quality players from outside Malaysia, leaves Nor Azlin positive that the move to Johor Baru represents the perfect opportunity to take his career to the next level.
And it’s another of the team’s established defenders – who Nor Azlin hopes to line up next to in the coming season – that the 22-year-old believes can help him develop in the months ahead.
“The player that I’m most looking forward to playing with is Fadhli Shas because he’s a very cool, composed player who communicates well, so I want to play alongside him,” added Nor Azlin.
“I will try and help the team retain the Super League for the fifth time in a row and win as many games in the cup competitions as we can.”
That begins with Persija at Tan Sri Dato’ Haji Hassan Yunos Stadium on Wednesday, before Johor travel to Vietnam’s Song Lam Nghe An and then make the short trip to take on Singapore's Tampines Rovers in a contest that is sure to entice fans from each side of the Johor–Singapore causeway.
Photo: Getty Images